Société des Missions Africaines – Province d’Irlande

GERAGHTY Andrew né le 25 juillet 1911 à Rochfortbridge
dans le diocèse de Meath, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 2 juillet 1933
prêtre le 20 décembre 1936
décédé le 16 avril 1940

1937-1940 missionnaire en Nigeria du Nord

décédé à Jos, Nigeria, le 16 avril 1940,
à l’âge de 28 ans

(biographie en anglais à la suite)

Le père Andrew GERAGHTY (1911 - 1940)

A Jos (Nigeria), le 16 avril 1940, retour à Dieu du père André Geraghty qui promettait beaucoup et en était à son premier séjour, à l'âge de 28 ans.

André Geraghty était né dans le diocèse de Meath, en Irlande, le 25 juillet 1911. Il fit toutes ses études dans les maisons de la Société, émit le serment en 1933 et fut ordonné prêtre en décembre 1936. A la fin de l'année scolaire, il recevait son obédience pour la préfecture de Jos. En novembre 1937, il était à pied d'œuvre.

"Prêtre pieux, méthodique et bien instruit, écrit son premier supérieur, plein de zèle pour les âmes, il restait toujours joyeux, bienveillant; il fut pour moi un excellent confrère, aide précieux pour toutes mes entreprises. Considérant la langue difficile des indigènes comme la clef de son ministère, il se mit au travail avec ardeur. Il apprit plusieurs idiomes. Il sut aussi s'acquérir une connaissance pratique des maladies locales, les cours médicaux pour futurs missionnaires qu'il avait suivis en Irlande l'y aidèrent. L'agriculture étant pour la population la seule manière de vivre, le père Geraghty se mit de suite à chercher les possibilités d'y introduire les méthodes nouvelles et efficaces, basées sur le principe de la jachère, principe non encore connu dans la région. La providence l'avait doué des plus belles qualités du cœur et de l'esprit et de dons manuels précieux. Ce fut avec un profond regret que je le vis partir vers sa nouvelle destination."

En effet, après un an de séjour, le père Geraghty fut chargé d'ouvrir un nouveau poste à Alogani au pays "Wana". Avec le père Harrisson, il y fut un pionnier. Ils y construisirent une maison, une école, une église et un hôpital magnifique et tout ce qu'il fallait pour deux infirmières qui acceptèrent de quitter Dublin pour venir travailler en brousse.

Une attaque foudroyante, peut-être de méningite cérébro-spinale emporta ce jeune père plein d'avenir en 48 heures, sans qu'il reprît connaissance. Il mourut pendant son transfert à l'hôpital de Jos.

Father Andrew GERAGHTY (1911 - 1940)

Andrew Geraghty was born at Rochfortbridge, Co Westmeath, in the diocese of Meath, on 25 July 1911. He died on the journey from Alogani to the hospital in Jos, probably from the effects of a fall from a horse sustained some days before, on l6 April 1940.

Andrew received his secondary education in the colleges of the Society in Ireland. He came to the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo, in 1926 and completed his studies at St. Joseph's college Wilton, Cork, which he had entered in 1928. Andrew joined the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in 193l and studied theology in the major seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, from 1933. He was admitted to membership of the Society on 2 July 1933 and was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 20 December 1936. He was one of a group of eighteen ordained on that day.

After ordination Andrew returned to Dromantine for six months to complete his theological formation. He was then appointed to Jos prefecture in northern Nigeria, a jurisdiction which had been established three years earlier, under the leadership of William Lumley. Setting out for his destination in November 1937, he joined a missionary staff of nine priests, seven of them recently ordained Irishmen. He arrived at a time of great crisis for the young prefecture. On 28 September and 5 October two members of the Irish contingent, John Marren and Tony O'Dwyer, had died from yellow fever contracted in Kwande mission. Despite the great uncertainty that must have existed, Andrew settled down quickly. Early reports from Mgr. Lumley record that he was especially keen in his study of Hausa which he was learning at Udei mission.

He was also making a close study of local remedies against illness, capitalising on a short course in tropical medicine which his class had taken at U.C.D. medical faculty before coming to Africa. In addition, according to Mgr. Lumley, he was paying particular attention to local farming methods agriculture was the sole way of life in his area and already had begun investigating the possibility of introducing new and more effective techniques, based on principles not yet known in the region. Andrew clearly made a good impression, for after little more than a year, early in 1939, he was appointed to assist Michael Harrison in opening a new station at Alogani, in a remote, rural district. Together they built a house, a school, a church and a fine dispensary and all that was required for the two nurses who had agreed to come from Dublin to staff the facility.

Andrew died in the third year of his missionary life at the age of 29 years. He was attended by the resident doctor, whose name was Edmonds, and by Nurses Powell and Darcy who had arrived out from Ireland a short time before and to work in the Alogani clinic. In a letter to the Superior General, Maurice Slattery, dated l7 March 1940, a month before his death, Andrew wrote: 'Last year on the first day of Lent, Fr. Harrison and myself commenced building and we had the school church and mission completed on Easter Sunday. Although we are in the middle of the bush, not even a motor road to the house and 25 miles from the railway, still, we are in beautiful surroundings, l,400 above sea level on top of the Mada hills. We are in the middle of a great population, the Mada tribe, all pagans... Our schools, though not opened a year yet, are doing very well... usually it is very hard to get them to come to school at first, but we have 50 boys on roll now so we must have someone's good prayers. It is hard to see any results from our work and at times very discouraging, as there are so few chances of administering the sacraments, but I suppose every mission was the same in its infancy, and in years to come, Please God, there will be a good Catholic community here on the Mada hills.'

A close colleague provided the following account of Andrew's death: 'I visited Fr. Andy in April 1940. He told us he had been down to a village on the main road on horseback some days previously and on the way back while riding the horse he had been reading the breviary. The horse stumbled and threw him and he knocked his head in the fall. He seemed to be none the worse for the accident ... The morning we left he complained of a severe headache and was lying down. There were two Irish lay nurses living in the compound who attended to him. After we left Mgr. Lumley arrived in Alogani later that same day. He sent for a doctor from Makurdi. He could do nothing to help and it was decided to take Andy to hospital in Jos. They started off at dawn the next morning. Andy died on the way. .. It seemed that the fall from the horse and injury to the head had resulted in brain haemorrhage and was the cause of death'. The mission coutumier or diary for Jos has the following poignant entry: 'This month witnessed one of the saddest events in the history of our Jos mission, the death of Fr. Andy Geraghty. Mgr. Lumley and Fr. (Mick) Harrison left Jos for Alogani and when they arrived they found Fr. Andy quite well.

On the morning of 14th April Fr. Andy complained of headache but nothing abnormal. The other Fathers had gone to visit the nursing sisters and left Fr. Andy paying some carriers. Next thing they heard was a boy who came to report that Father had taken suddenly sick and had fallen. When they came back to the mission they found Fr. Andy lying on the ground and immediately Mgr. Lumley administered Extreme Unction. Later Fr. Andy regained consciousness for a few minutes then lost it again and remained unconscious to the end. Mgr. Lumley left for Makurdi for a doctor but when the doctor arrived all hope seemed to have been given up. On Tuesday Mgr. Lumley attempted to take Fr. Andy to Jos but he died on the road... The coffin was brought to the church and lay there throughout the night and part of the next day. Hundreds visited the church to pray for his soul. The funeral was one which did credit to the great esteem in which the Christians hold their Fathers and it is estimated that upwards of 800 people as well as school children followed the remains of their beloved pastor'. Some years later Alogani mission was closed and the mission at Akwanga was opened in its place.

Andrew is buried in Jos, Nigeria.